Day Hikes Near Tower-Roosevelt


Lost Lake Trail
Garnet Hill & Hellroaring Trails
Yellowstone River Picnic Area Trail
Slough Creek Trail
Mt. Washburn Trail

Day hiking in Yellowstone provides an ideal opportunity for people of all ages to get out and experience the park’s many wonders away from the crowds. Thousands of miles of trails await, and wildlife sightings are nearly always guaranteed. Those planning a day trip into Yellowstone’s wilderness are encouraged to stop by a ranger station or visitor’s center for trail maps and the latest information regarding weather, animal activity, and trail closures. The following trails are available in the Tower-Roosevelt Area, and all hikers are reminded to stay on the trail.

Lost Lake Trail
Distance: 4 miles (6.4 km) roundtrip
Climb: moderate
Difficulty: moderate
Location: The Lost Lake Trail departs behind the Roosevelt Lodge 

Climbing 300 feet to join the Roosevelt Horse Trail, the Lost Lake Trail provides glimpses of wildflowers, open meadows, sagebrush flats, waterfowl, and oftentimes black bears as it travels to Lost Lake. Equestrians frequently use the trail, so hikers should step to the trail’s downhill side when meeting a horse. Hikers are also reminded to remain still when a horse passes so as not to startle the animal.

Garnet Hill and Hellroaring Trails
Distance: 4 miles (6.4 km) to 10 miles (16 km) depending on route taken
Climb: moderate
Difficulty: moderate
Location: Two trailheads provide access. One trailhead is located at Tower Junction while the second is situated 3.5 miles (5.6 km) west of Tower Junction.

Measuring 7.5 miles, the Garnet Hill Loop Trail begins near the service station at Tower Junction, follows an old stagecoach road, and meanders near Elk Creek on its journey around Garnet Hill. The trail loops back to the Northeast Entrance Road where hikers are required to take a short walk back to the parking lot trailhead.

Along the Garnet Hill Loop Trail, hikers will encounter a fork for the Hellroaring Trail. The trail leads to the Yellowstone River and Hellroaring Creek, both of which are popular angling destinations. The Hellroaring Trail is also accessible 3.5 miles west of Tower Junction where hikers gain stunning views while crossing the Yellowstone River Suspension Bridge. The Hellroaring Trail via Garnet Creek is a 10-mile roundtrip hike while the trek from Hellroaring Trailhead is 4 miles roundtrip.  

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Yellowstone River Picnic Area Trail
Distance: 3.7 miles (5.9 km) roundtrip
Climb: moderate
Difficulty: moderately difficult
Location: The trail is located 1.25 miles (2 km) northeast of Tower Junction at the Yellowstone Picnic Area.

Skirting the Yellowstone River’s eastern rim, this trail provides outstanding vistas of Overhanging Cliff, the Narrows of Yellowstone, the historic Bannock Indian Trail, and towering basalt columns. Bighorn sheep frequent the area, and the river canyon is known for its steep dropoffs. The trail receives relatively little use, so hikers should expect dramatic scenery without the crowds.

Slough Creek Trail
Distance: 10 miles (16 km) roundtrip
Climb: moderately steep at first, then level
Difficulty: moderately difficult at first, then easy
Location: The Slough Creek Trail departs near the vault toilet in the Slough Creek Campground vicinity.

Utilizing a historic wagon trail, the Slough Creek Trail switchbacks over Plateau and Elk Tongue Creeks on a scenic journey to meadow areas. The hike is difficult at first, but the trail does level out at the top of the switchbacks. Anglers frequent the area as do private wagons from a nearby ranch. Although wildlife is not the primary attraction in Slough Creek, bears are known to occasionally frequent the area. Hikers should use caution at all times.

Mt. Washburn Trail
Distance: 6 miles (9.6 km) roundtrip
Climb: moderate
Difficulty: moderate
Location: Two trailheads provide access to this trail. Access the trail 8.7 miles (13.9 km) south of Tower Junction at the Chittenden Road Parking Area or 13.6 miles (21.8 km) south of Tower Junction at the Dunraven Pass Parking Area.

The Mt. Washburn Trail is one of Yellowstone’s most popular day hikes, and it is easy to understand why. Panoramic views and rare wildlife sightings combine for a memorable Yellowstone experience. Both trails switchback up to the summit, and hikers are reminded not to shortcut the trails. The alpine vegetation is fragile, and off-trail traffic can damage the ecosystem. 

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